Findings demonstrated in the CHUMS project, coordinated by Vectos in 2014 and funded through the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme, show the considerable potential for employers to reduce the number of cars at worksites through low cost measures. Whilst for local authorities, maximising the carpooling opportunity, is a very cost effective way to cut urban traffic congestion.
Socialcar aimed to take carpooling to the next level, to establish it as a mainstream transport mode, accepted as the norm in our mass transit systems of the future.
At the heart of Socialcar was a real-time Intelligent Transport System (ITS). By fully integrating carpooling with public transport networks and information management systems, carpooling can extend public transport to areas of cities where it has proved impossible to operate services without prohibitively high public subsidy.
The information source for Socialcar options was through social media, and when combined with open data sets for public transport and crowdsourcing, it can provide people with real time travel options for public transport and carpooling.
Socialcar aimed at providing the platform to enhance current carpooling providers in their respective local markets. The multi-lingual system combined public transport data (provided by operators), private data (provided by car poolers), real time traffic information (generated by web communities of travellers) and exploited existing services and social networks to provide information and alerts through static and mobile devices.
The system was tested in 10 European cities which were currently offering carpooling services at different levels of maturity. The aim was to develop a system that could work in all cities across Europe; with a clear cost benefit analysis and business model to warrant further investment and expansion.
Vectos played a leading role in the Socialcar project. In addition to identifying the types of potential users, Vectos led the project to define the stakeholders for Socialcar and a common European business strategy for its take-up. We worked with the 10 cities to apply and refine the model, before developing a medium to long term business strategy for commercialising Socialcar on European and World markets.
Smart carpooling can offer integration with public transport, placing it firmly into the mainstream of travel modes in the cities of the future.
Testing of the app demonstrated that the SocialCar service multiplies journey options and has the potential to significantly reduce congestion. Headline results and observations from the research are summarised here:
- Transformational for carpooling – SocialCar loosens the typical carpooling journey constraints of origin, destination and time. Every bus stop or train station increases route options and 19% of trip solutions of trip solutions presented by the app involve carpooling. More trip matches = more carpooling activity.
- Tackling the public transport first/last mile challenge – SocialCar connects potential passengers with the public transport network. Around 70-85% of carpooling trip solutions presented by the app link to public transport, sustaining and increasing passenger numbers and fare incomes.
- Mobility services for the many – a wave of new mobility services based on app-enabled taxi-pooling / demand responsive minibuses may only be viable in dense urban environments and targeted at wealthier user groups. Carpooling remains a highly relevant component of MaaS (Mobility as a Service) in suburban, peri-urban and rural areas.
- Financially self-sustaining – financial scenario testing suggests that integrating SocialCar modules within an existing trip-planning app could result in a financially self-sustaining app for city-regions or polycentric areas of 1,000,000 population or more (within a 5-year period), with potential for future income generation a very real possibility.
- Cost effective network efficiency – modelling suggests that SocialCar-type systems could result in congestion reduction of 6-15% (e.g. value-of-time savings for the Brussels region of €200m per annum) and could help offset infrastructure investment.